By Arif Hasan
Between 1976 and 2003, the government of Pakistan has taken loans from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for urban development projects. These loans amount to US$ 1,472.44 million (Rs 88.346 billion) and most of them have been for water and sanitation projects. They have multiplied over the years due to the devolution of the rupee and interest. These loans were identified through technical assistance for which an additional US$ 16.95 million (Rs 1.017 billion) was provided.
Technical assistance includes development of human resources and the capacity building of relevant government institutions.
In spite of these huge investments, infrastructure and environmental and socio-economic conditions in the urban areas of Pakistan have deteriorated considerably. The functioning of government institutions has also declined both in terms of efficiency and accountability. Asian Development Bank`s (ADB`s) own 1996 evaluation of the Karachi Urban Development Project and Peshawar projects, terms both of them as unsuccessful, except for the Orangi Project (termed as partially
successful) which was done in association with the Orangi Pilot Project.
For the development of projects through these huge loans, foreign consultants were employed and the loans paid for them. Studies by Pakistani professionals and NGOs have identified the weaknesses of these consultants and the problems with the methodologies that they have used in planning and in the processes of project implementation and monitoring.